Gas Crisis: OCEA Insists County Act

The following letter came in late yesterday from Nick Berardino at the Orange County Employees Association. It appears that while county workers want to take action and work collectively to address the impact of explosive gas prices on workers and the Orange County community, County Executives couldn’t be bothered. 

OCEA

June 9, 2008

Nick Berardino, OCEATom Mauk
Chief Executive Officer
County of Orange
10 Civic Center Plaza, 3rd Floor
Santa Ana, CA  92701

Dear Mr. Mauk:

This past weekend the price of regular gasoline surged past $4.50 per gallon in Orange County. Today the price of oil is over $135 per barrel and there is a strong consensus that it will continue to increase in the coming months. For a preview of where United States fuel prices might be headed, we need look no further than today’s truckers’ strike in Spain, where the price of diesel is nearing the equivalent of $9.00 per gallon.

I am writing to you because the astronomical cost of gas is economically devastating much of your County workforce. As usual, the pain is felt most acutely by those employees who least can afford it – for example, single mothers, employees who cannot afford to live in the County, and those already reeling from the havoc in the housing market.

Of course, County workers are not alone. The increase in the price of gas, unfathomable just a short time ago, is having a significant negative impact on the vast majority of Orange County residents working in the private sector. From conversations I have had with residents throughout the County over the past few months, from the desperate entreaties of our members, and from polling OCEA has conducted, it is clear that high fuel prices are driving an increasing number of Orange County families to choose week after week between putting gas in their tanks or food on their tables. 

You can exercise strong leadership by addressing this serious issue, beginning with a focus on the County’s own employees. Two weeks ago I submitted a draft telecommuting plan to the County Human Resources Director that, if implemented, would constitute a small step towards helping employees weather the current economic crisis.

The response so far? Silence.

Because I haven’t been able to elicit a response from the Human Resources Department, I am writing to you, hopeful that you take seriously both the threat posed by current gas prices and suggestions for dealing with our current situation.

On behalf of OCEA and its more than 13,000 represented county employees, I sincerely request that you take a first step and consider the institution of a revised telecommuting policy – including the institution of a “4/10” workweek where feasible and public transportation incentives – to help address the exceptional financial burden high gas prices have placed on County employees.

Thank you for your consideration and please call me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

ORANGE COUNTY EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
Nick Berardino
General Manager